Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Time-lapse clouds

Via Bad Astronomy is this awesome series of time-lapse photographs in the Canary Islands. Bad Astronomy posts a lot of these and they are all amazing. They also feature a lot of stars. Duh.

But the linked to above is more about the clouds. Clouds at high elevations pushing into the mountain almost look like waves on the ocean. Beautiful shots of lenticular clouds over the mountain peaks. Lenticulars are beautiful to look at, but in my old job forecasting turbulence for airlines, they were a sign of trouble in the air. They are an indicator for mountain waves, which can cause some pretty severe turbulence. You can see this happening over alot of high, sharp peaks, like the Rockies and the mountains in southern Alaska. There isn't much that gets a dispatchers attention faster than a mountain wave forecast right through their flight plan.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pulling a Voltron

"Pulling a Voltron" is the lovely turn-of-phrase used by Brian Palmer, who wrote this article in Slate about the recent rash of storms impacting parts of the southeastern U.S.

Now I don't buy multiple tornados will merge into one. As the article states, the larger storm will pull energy from the weaker when and cause the weaker to collapse completely. One storm splitting into two, now that is a different story.

5 Bizarre Ways the Weather Can Kill You Without Warning

Via, here are some fun things the weather might do, just to mess with your mind.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

2011 Hurricane Predictions

Meteorologists at Colorado State University have released a long-term tropical forecast for the upcoming hurricane season and, if they are right, it may be a big one. They predict sixteen named storms, nine of which will be hurricanes.

How do they come up with that? Atlantic hurricanes aren't just dependent on local weather, but also what is happening in the Pacific. In this, warmer than usual waters in the Atlantic coupled with cooler waters in the eastern Pacific can mean a greater chance for more strong storms.

In other words, Atlantic hurricane frequency is tied into what is called ENSO (El Nino Souther Oscillation). El Nino events, with warm waters in the eastern Pacific, can mean fewer Atlantic storms. In the case of forecasts for this coming year, cooler waters (La Nina) are forecasted, meaning a greater number of tropical storms are expected.

Monday, March 28, 2011

On Turbulence

CNN posted a report on flying through turbulence. It's a good layman's discussion on why you don't have to worry about crashing if you feel a few bumps on your way from NYC to Vegas.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Winds and nuclear cloud

I don't there are many people out there who haven't heard about the fire at one of the nuclear facilities caused by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake in Japan. As of right now, there is a no-fly zone in parts of Japan because of this.

The winds currently are blowing out of the west and out to sea (see Al Roker). As long as this continues people not in the immediate vicinity of the facility will avoid the worst of exposure.

But what about flights coming from the U.S.? Well, that's where the problem comes in. In order to get to Tokyo from the U.S., flights will fly over the far northern part of the Pacific or Alaska. This is because the flight path is shorter when flights move toward the poles. For a long flight like NYC to Tokyo, this will mean flying near the northeastern part of Japan, right where the radiation cloud would be. While it might not be as bad at higher elevations, people will be careful. As of right now, the no-fly zone is about 18 miles around the facility, which most flights should be able to avoid. If the winds shift or if it gets worse, this will obviously change.

Friday, February 18, 2011